Come Fly With Me

2014 has a been a disaster for the aviation industry. According to statistics, 2014 was the most fatal year since 2005. The disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight mh370 is still a mystery today, and coupled with the shooting down of another Malaysian airliner over a conflict region in Ukraine, and the recent Air Asia tragedy; the events of 2014 has proved just how complex and conflicted regulations within Airline industry can be.

8th of March– 239 Lives were lost in the MH370 inccident
17th July– 298 lives were lost in the second Malaysian Airlines inccident over Ukraine
24th of July– 116 lives lost in the Air Algerie crash near Gossi
28th December– 162 lives lost in the recent Air Asia crash in the Indian sea

(Data from aviation Safety Network)

Coupled with other incidents around the world involving smaller aircraft and fatalities figures, the total number of fatalities for 2014 is 1,320.

While 2014 is still far from being the deadliest year for flying, and is still one of the safest years to date; the above incidents (while all maintaining very unique and diverse circumstances) have resulted in the death of 100’s- friends, partners, children, parents- who should have arrived safely to their destinations.

As NTSB investigations are still ongoing, it can be presumed that factors pertaining to weather, airline error, pilot error and mechanical failure may have a played a part in one if not all of the events above. However, in this day and age, does it not seem slightly incredible that a passenger jet can be authorized to fly through a conflict airspace, and be subsequently shot down by military? That, despite years of training, a supposedly trained crew can lose control of an aircraft? Or that despite extremely advanced aviation and tracking technology, a commercial jet can simply vanish, all 239 lives with it?

Malaysian airline wreckage in Ukraine


Business is Business
It must always be born in mind that the commercial airline industry is a business, and when it comes to cutting costs and corners, airline giants are no strangers. To survive in an ever changing and competitive industry, Airlines are increasingly forced to find ways to reduce costs, but the extent to which these efforts jeopardize safety are ambiguous. Reducing fuel costs, maintenance costs and staff costs, will inevitably result in performance issues. Reluctance to recall faulty aircraft, or take longer routes to avoid bad weather on strict time schedules, all pave the way for discrepancies between safety and cost efficiency. This is not to imply that the industry actively seeks to endanger the lives of its flight crew and passengers; but rather that the events of 2014 have revealed, quite publicly, that airline procedures can be rife with error and poor judgement as result of the constant pressure to meet high demands, while maintaining low running costs.

We’ve all heard it before, “flying is the safest way to travel”. And, technically it is. but it depends on a significant number of factors, some of which are being unfortunately being compromised to meet business needs.

Flying is so many parts skill, so many parts planning, so many parts maintenance, and so many parts luck. The trick is to reduce the luck by increasing the others.

-David .L Baker

Review of Russell Brand’s ‘Revolution’

Many of you may be shocked to learn of Comedian Russell Brand’s recent switch to political/current affair commentator. I know I was. Along with serious appearances on PrimeTime and elsewhere, in addition to Brand’s youtube channel “The Trews- News you can trust”, the comedian is using his name and charisma to provide his followers with a source of genuine unbiased political thought with regards to current affairs, terrorism, corporations, and a lot more. He has been involved with a number of protests such as the Irish Water Protests, marches against austerity measures in London, and most recently the New Era Housing estate movement. Many have been critical of Brand’s involvement and career change, and yet while Brand’s trademark egocentric,downright barmyness features strongly throughout, it in a way validates the overall earnestness of his agenda.


Russell Brand
Brands latest book Revolution is similar to The Trews in ways- the sometimes seemingly directionless ravings, the critique of modern day news reporting, politicians and figureheads, the sarcasm, the breakdown of overly complicated political jargon to layman terms, and more seriously, a persistent nudge in the direction of a worldwide, peaceful revolution.

How to take an ex sex and drug addict seriously on such a sombre level? Especially when the blatant hypocrisy of a celebrity whose benefited significantly from the exact structures he claims are failing is acknowledged? Well, I suppose you don’t have to. However, the research in Revolution which reference notorious academics such as Dave Graeber and Noam Chomsky among others, lend Brands work a credibility not so easily refuted, and coupled with Brand’s explanation of serious political and revolutionary ideologies through humorous means, make Revolution appealing to those without an interest in politics. And even if you don’t agree, its both an eye opening and entertaining read. If nothing else, Revolution provides insight to the reader of Brand’s own realization of the unfairness, greed and injustice that is rampant through all strata of society today. And he puts it simply:

“Unless you are the CEO of a a major corporation, you too in 2014-15 are repaying taxes to a Government that doesn’t represent you; they represent the interests of big business.”


Its worth noting that much of Brand’s work references spiritualism and faith,and specifically a spiritual revolution. It all sounded a bit too tree-hugging-hippy-ish to me too. But under all the spiritual anecdotes, there is some solid sense and logic to Brand’s thinking. Does Revolution call for a revolution? Yes, in a way, though not through the traditional connotations. He references Gandhi, in that people need to “Be the change” and that to truly see the injustices and failing of modern day democracy, we must break away from the capitalistic and materialistic mindsets so embedded in society.
Possible? Of course.new
Appealing? To some.
Successful? Depends.

Overall, Revolution is a work designed to, if not inspire mass revolt, then to encourage people to think for themselves and challenge the economical,corporate and political systems of today. To question the logic of following, maintaining and supporting a system that in all honesty, does not benefit the majority, but the elite few. Revolution is deliberately not overtly serious and thoroughly researched as to disengage readers, and this is where its success is, as those without an interest in politics and economics are not alienated. The lack of such may pose issues for the more academically minded, but even so it still references controversial topics such as trade agreements, foreign policy, bank bailouts and tax evasion. Arguably, it may just be the regurgitated rhetoric of pre-existing academics and ideologies, mingled with spiritualism and black humor, but regardless its a stimulating, provocative and engaging read.

‘Human Experimentation Was a Core Feature of the CIA Torture Program’

Interesting piece

Did You Check First?

If journalists and officials began talking about the tests that CIA psychologists conducted on suspected terrorists at U.S. black sites, would Americans demand the prosecution of those responsible?
– 2014/12/18

Source: www.truthdig.com

“[B]ecause the concept of torture has been so muddled and disputed,” she <Lisa Hajjar, a professor of sociology at UC Santa Barbara>concludes, “I suggest that accountability would be more publicly palatable if we reframed the CIA’s program as one of human experimentation. If we did so, it would be more difficult to laud or excuse perpetrators as ‘patriots’ who ‘acted in good faith.’ Although torture has become a Rorschach test among political elites playing to public opinion on the Sunday morning talk shows, human experimentation has no such community of advocates and apologists.”

—Alexander Reed Kelly.

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

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Can you afford to be healthy?

We’ve all been there. Shopping isles, foraging for the items we normally throw in our trollies, but wait; something catches our eye on the same shelf. Organic. Hmm. Same item but apparently better for you, and alas, more expensive. Less chemicals, GMO free, No artificial flavors ect. and of course it probably is better for you. But can you afford it?


Government: “Eat healthier”

We hear it regularly, government plans to tackle obesity and related illnesses, often preaching to us, the consumer, to “Eat healthier, Make better choices”. These statements do nothing more than insinuate that the blame is on society; poor eating habits result in poor health. It’s your fault (lets ignore for a moment the vested interests the Healthcare industry and pharmaceutical companies have in unhealthy societies). The truth is while more and more people are becoming aware of poor quality food standards and the health dangers cheap, processed, chemical pumped foods offer, people cannot simply just “eat Healthier”. It’s not like go exercise; walking and running are free. It’s not like get more sleep. Antibiotics and arsenic in the chicken. Growth hormones in the milk. Cancer causing sweeteners in, well, just about everything. Now that your aware of such dangers, surely you can spend an extra 15 minutes on your shopping trip to read the label of every item you pick up and make better, healthier choices.

Truth is, a shocking number of people can’t. Cancer causing, processed, dangerous foods are stocked in every food store at low prices, as opposed to organic foods (if your store even stocks them) which are generally more expensive, and less plentiful. In new study published by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, low income Americans would have to spend almost 70% of their income to meet the national dietary guidelines. So, while it’s all well and good for the government to simply blame societies lack of education regarding food, or allocating it to laziness, gluttony ect, and while this may be true in some cases, the fact that Governments maintain low food standards resulting in mass cheap food production that harms health is rather telling.

Bluntly, if low income families (nearly half of the USA) can’t afford a healthy lifestyle, this results in widespread unhealthy lifestyles, which results in health issues, which subsequently leads to a need for health care, which funds a booming Health and Pharmaceutical industry.

We are allowing ourselves to be told we’re to blame by the very organizations who are keeping us unhealthy.
Governments, Food and Healthcare companies need to stop allocating all the responsibility and blame for nationwide poor health and obesity epidemics to people and start taking responsibility for allowing the present day situation, where it’s cheaper to buy a box of doughnuts in Walmart then a bag of sprouts.

The R Bomb: The Abuse of Political Correctness

That’s racism.
“RACISM!”
“……..that’s just racist.”

thethinkinggaill

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, many of us have heard or read in the news numerous issues regarding racism and discrimination within the last few weeks. It seems nations worldwide are dealing with the topic, for instance the UK has had a flurry of issues regarding the political party UKIP, and whether protecting British homogeneity is racist or a legitimate concern. Ireland a few weeks ago had a ‘racist’ problem due to a lynch mob who protested outside a Roma gypsy home, the inhabitants of which were believed to be engaged in various criminal gangs and acts in the area. The US at present is under extreme scrutiny with regards to its law enforcement system, with the prolific deaths of 3 unarmed African American individuals at the hands of White policemen: Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. However though ethnicity undeniably plays a part in all the…

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Why Irish eyes aren’t smiling: Irish Water

After years of fierce austerity measures, the Irish Water debacle seemed to blast the last few bits of patience the Irish people had. No scheme has gathered more public unrest and controversy then the formation of the privately owned company Irish Water. This article is not attempting to influence or inform your decision on whether to pay the charge or not. There is a plethora of information out there to do that. What will be discussed however is why exactly the formation of the company Irish Water is illegal, as is the actions of the Irish Government. What follows is utter insults to the integrity of the people of Ireland by Fine Gael and Labour, and the tactics employed by the Government and Irish water to legitimize blatant illegal actions, resulting in an illegal domestic charge, and illegal contract (both by Irish and EU law) and nothing but an abuse and mockery of the Irish people


Lies

“Today I enter into a covenant with the Irish people……Honesty is not just our policy, it is our only policy”220px-EndaKenny2007FineGael
Enda Kenny, the Day he was elected as Taoiseach, 9th of march, 2011

Fine Gael and Labour were elected in a time of severe economical crisis. Severe cuts, increased taxes, and high unemployment and a general feeling of despair greeted the new coalition government, whose best policy was honesty, if words are anything to go by. Now, while no one would ever voluntarily testify to the honesty of a politician,  people had genuine hope, or at least belief, that a new party could hardly be worse than the last.
What came was a series of exploitative job schemes (Jobbridge) rooted in maintaining a welfare state, and yet again, increased taxation. But this time, the tax came in a form completely unexpected. While Water charges had been on the cards as early as 2009, no-one could have predicted the deceitful tactics employed by the Irish government to privatize Ireland’s water.


                                                                                                                                                                                     Is That Even legal?

On the 25th of December-yes, Christmas day- the legislation to privatize Irelands water, The Irish Water Act 2013, was signed into law. This was to pass the law without massive amounts of public attention
Firstly, there is existing EU legislation (Europeans Competitions Treaty Act art. 82 and 86) which prohibits the privatization of natural resources, so the Irish Water Act is in breach of EU competitors law.
Also, under the EU Water directive 2000, Ireland does not have to pay for water charges. However, as the Irish Water website kindly informs us “The Irish Government introduced national legislation in 2013 (Water Services Act No. 2) obliging Irish Water to introduce charging for the supply of domestic water services.”
It is highly evident from the above that the implementation of the company Irish Water was managed in a way to go unnoticed and unapproved by the people of Ireland.
To add further insult to injury, the Minister Alan Kelly is due to renew Ireland’s EU exemption on Water charges in January, which he intends not to do. As reported on avaaz.org ,

“Last week the Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said that Ireland did not have an exemption from domestic water metering and charging as defined in the EU Water Services Directive.
This was simply untrue, and the EU have confirmed this.”


A Torrent of Tyranny

• Irish Water is owned by Denis O Brien, who owns GMC/Sierra and Communicorp, a media Giant who owns many of Ireland’s radio stations. Irish Water was not a legally registered or certified company at the time it signed a contract with the Irish Government, and did not possess an EU (required) Tax certificate of registration.
• Many have been critical of Irish Water’s bullying threats to people who don’t pay their charges. Turning off their water supply, directly taxing their wage or social welfare payment, but interestingly circling around court hearings. Irish water is currently being delayed due to major disputes in the courts already.
• Irish people already pay Water charges. The Property Tax introduced in 2011 is supposed to cover the costs of “Essential Services” which includes the water system. VAT was increased in the 1970’s to cover the costs of maintain the water infrastructure. The government, and company Irish Water want you to continue paying these, plus your average 260 euro a year.
• The meters currently being installed in thousands of homes across Ireland are the same meters that are currently being uninstalled across America due to concerns of dangerous radiation emissions.


Final Thoughts

Irish people are angry for a number of reasons; a strange company demanding details and PPS no’s, employing bullying tactics to those who don’t pay an already paid for charge,  and the blatantly deceitful illegal and bullying actions of the Irish Government complacent to Irish Water in the form of controlled media, downplaying the real issues with regards to the privatization of Ireland’s water, ignoring mass protests, and most recently, Enda Kenny’s refusal to call a general election early, despite widespread angst. There is a lack of transparency in the Irish government, and the establishment of Irish Water is a prime example of why: to push through agendas in favour of the elite few. There is a history of such in Irish politics. As long as they can bully and make unreasonable demands of the Irish people, be assured, they will continue to. Rising rent and house costs, rising intuition fees, “Temporary” Universal social charge, Property Tax, Water charges: only we can decide when it will end. Ireland is no longer a land of scholars, but a land of many who can no longer afford education, a place to live, and soon, one of the  basic human needs, water.

“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.”

-Plato